**Thank you everyone for writing in – this has been really fun! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to reply to every question, but if I have time over the next few days I'll pop back on and answer some more. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about my work, please check out my books ( or follow me on Twitter @SCOTUSHUMOR. And happy 420 everyone!!

I’m Jay Wexler, a professor of law at Boston University, where I teach constitutional law, environmental law, and now, for the past six years, marijuana law. I’ve published six books and over three dozen articles about various areas of law and am currently finishing a new book on cannabis legalization. I could talk about marijuana all day long and look forward to answering questions about anything having to do with cannabis law and policy.

I’m happy to answer questions on these and any other topics:

  • Will marijuana be legalized at the federal level anytime soon? Why is it federally illegal in the first place? Why does the federal government categorize marijuana together with heroin and LSD?

  • How has the conversation about marijuana changed over the years?

  • Are there public health or other risks to legalizing cannabis? If so, what are they, and are they serious?

  • Given that the war on drugs has disproportionately harmed minority communities for many decades, how can states (and the feds, if they choose legalization) ensure that people of color will be able to participate fully in the new industry, and what other steps can the government take to ensure racial equity in the cannabis space?

  • How have states gone about legalizing marijuana? What are the key features of state marijuana law and policy? Are there important differences among the states?

  • How does federal illegality continue to affect marijuana users and businesses? What are the tax, banking, intellectual property, and other problems caused by keeping the drug illegal at a federal level?

  • What controls do states typically give to cities and other localities over marijuana? Do cities and towns ever say “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) when it comes to weed?

  • What are the differences between medical marijuana programs and recreational or adult-use ones?

  • In states where cannabis is legal, can you smoke it in public? Are there places that are like bars, but for weed instead of alcohol? Should there be?

  • Is marijuana legalization the first step towards legalizing other drugs in the United States? Are psychedelic drugs the next chapter in the legalization movement?

  • How have other countries legalized marijuana? Canada and Uruguay have both legalized the drug—how are their policies similar to and different from what we see in the U.S.?

  • Can employees still be fired for using marijuana, even in states where the drug has been made legal for medical or recreational purposes?

  • Can the police still search a car or house or a person based solely on the smell of marijuana, even in states where it’s legal to use the drug? Does this raise issues under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution?

  • How can the government and others take steps to remove the stigma that attaches to marijuana use and normalize the drug as a valid recreational choice like skiing, drinking wine, or eating cupcakes?

  • Proof Picture--

Comments: 403 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

Klin24897 karma

Any relation to Kim Wexler?

jaywexler216 karma

Sadly no. (though I never got into Better Call Saul--does that make me a bad person??)

litguy_69141 karma

I have noticed an uptick in middle-aged men & women sharing scare articles about edibles looking eerily similar to their non-medicated counterparts. Or children getting (expensive) edibles in their halloween hauls.

How do you see public perception changing towards this in the future? We currently allow people to buy multiple units of liquor without issue, but edibles and flower are highly regulated and often misreported.

...also do you have a favorite strain?

jaywexler174 karma

On edibles, there have always been these scary articles and posts about the dangers. Sure there are some dangers of potential overconsumption (the Maureen Dowd effect) or inadvertent consumption, but I think the problem is way overstated. Nobody is giving out their expensive weed gummy bears to children on Halloween! My former student Connor Burns and I have a (verrrrrry long) article on this if you're interested:

I hope public perception evolves. It certainly has in the past decade, and I'd expect it to continue. You're right, we don't say to consumers, hey you can only buy three bottles of vodka! So why do we tell them they can only buy so much weed? Partially it's to help undermine the illicit market, but eventually we're going to have to get rid of those limits I think.

Recently I've been enjoying Sweet Tooth but I'm not a connoisseur. I tend to eat edibles.

Competitive-Train-3287 karma

What country or state do you think has the best model for regulating the sale and use of cannabis?

jaywexler97 karma

Thus far, Illinois seems to have a good model, particularly with regard to equity concerns. New York looks like it's going to be good as well. Some people think Oklahoma has the best medical program because there are far fewer regulations there than in other states for some reason.

NoMereVeneerofVanity85 karma

Hi Jay. What do you think will happen to medical weed if/when the federal government legalizes? Will it just go away, or is there a world in which insurance would ever cover something that isn’t just like Epidiolex or Marinol?

jaywexler91 karma

Hi. Thanks for the question, it's a really good one. I think that medical will be here to stay in some form after legalization. The feds might simply let the states keep doing what they're doing, in which case states with medical programs will presumably keep them for the benefit of patients. As to insurance, I think that's coming at some point. Already some workers comp programs will reimburse medical marijuana (although the Supreme Court might weigh in on that issue before too long) and I think once it becomes generally understood that marijuana has real medical benefits for many (many!!) people, that insurance will follow. Might be too optimistic though--hope not!

Ragnaroq31473 karma

Do you think Nikki Fried (Ag Commissioner in Florida)'s lawsuit against the federal government regarding Form 4473 preventing legal marijuana user's at the state level from purchasing firearms due to federal regulations under the Controlled Substances Act and the Gun Control Act will go anywhere or have any positive affect in advancing federal legalization?

jaywexler99 karma

I'm not familiar with the lawsuit specifically, but the intersection of gun rights and weed rights is fascinating. It will be interesting to see how courts decide whether the federal rule against gun ownership for marijuana users violates the second amendment. The issue makes for strange bedfellows in a sense--gun owners and weed smokers unite! But of course, both are issues of individual freedom and I would think libertarians would be pro-freedom on both issues.

SgtDoughnut54 karma

What are you thoughts on how Missouri legislature tried to ignore what the people voted on in relation to marijuana legalization?

jaywexler96 karma

I don't know the specifics of what happened in Missouri, but I sure wish they'd legalize because my wife is from St. Louis and I spend a lot of time there and would like to enjoy a j-bird along with my Busch Light.

rocharox51 karma

Legalizing means everyone in jail for selling Marijuana would be pardoned?

jaywexler96 karma

It could. Most of the federal proposals out there that have been floated have provisions for expungement of records. States that have legalized later rather than earlier also seem to understand that expungement/pardons must accompany legalization.

rararainbows49 karma

Once the Federal government legalize Marijuana, how long would it take to get everyone with minor offenses out of jail? Do you think private prisons are one of the reasons the government keeps it illegal?

jaywexler96 karma

Hi there! Thanks for the question. I think the private prison industry has got to be one of the political forces that has held up federal legality. Also big pharma. I expect that any federal law that gets passed will have automatic expungement as a key feature, but hard to know how long that process will actually take in practice. I hope it moves quickly!

tripletexas36 karma

Someone told me that the smell of burned marijuana is no longer probable cause for a stop or a search in light of the federal farm act legalization of hemp. To what extent do you agree with this?

jaywexler83 karma

The impact of legalization on 4th amendment issues relating to police searches and seizures is kind of fascinating. Why should an officer be able to rely on the smell of weed as probable cause that a crime has been committed if marijuana is legal? Some states have in fact said that they can't--the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did that in cases called Cruz and Overmyer. Some states have included in their legislation provisions saying that officers can't use the smell of weed along as probable cause--Virginia and New York come to mind. But other states that have legalized still maintain that because some marijuana use remains illegal (having too much, for example, or selling without a license) that the smell of weed, when combined with other factors, can create probable cause. My favorite issue is about drug-sniffing dogs. The Colorado Supreme Court in a recent case called McKnight said that bringing a dog to sniff a car for marijuana is now a search and has to itself be supported by probable cause, which is a change in the law. I feel kind of bad for the dogs, which now have to retire, but it's a good legal development.

SouthBeachStrumpet24 karma

Hi Jay. Curious to know if it is legalized at the federal level, what could that mean for workplace testing? Is there a possibility users would have some sort of protection or recourse (particularly in regard to pre-employment screening)?

jaywexler44 karma

Hi there. Some states have already started addressing the problem of workplace testing (specifically the issue that tests for THC do not tell us anything about whether someone is actually high at the time of the test) either by protecting medical users or even, in some states (Nevada, I think, and both New York and New Jersey are going there too) recreational users. If the feds legalize, I think whatever statute they pass should provide explicit protection to workers, though I don't think the proposals currently pending in Congress do that (could be wrong though).

queersieane16 karma

Hello! What is your opinion on regulations limiting the amount of THC per serving size/total THC in edibles? What is the reasoning behind these regulations, and do they actually serve the purposes they claim to be motivated by?

jaywexler37 karma

Hi! Regulators are perhaps understandably worried about people eating too much and having a Maureen Dowd "twirling on the floor of her hotel room thinking she had died" experience, so they limit the amount of THC per serving, etc. The problem is that since weed has been illegal for so long, lots of people don't know what they're doing when they eat it. Over time, as the drug becomes more normalized as a valid recreational choice, people will learn how to use cannabis properly and there might be less need to strictly regulate THC amounts.

NoPunkProphet13 karma

Why can states break federal law in this case, but not in other situations like taxes or when the feds want to build a project? Is it really just a matter of enforcement, or is it more complicated than that?

jaywexler28 karma

It's a great question, and the answer involves some complicated concepts in constitutional law. In short, the feds would like the states to keep weed illegal but the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the federal government from ordering the states to carry out federal law. So if the states decide to keep marijuana legal they can, and they need not help the feds enforce federal law. The feds could, if they wanted, arrest anyone and everyone who uses or sells or processes weed, but this is where the will to enforcement comes in--the feds don't want to spend their time and money and human resources to put weed smokers in jail, so they have for the most part thrown up their hands and let states do what they want. Hope that helps a bit!

I_luv_My_3dAm_Rights13 karma

Do you have a book on this topic? Or one that is coming out soon?

jaywexler38 karma

I'm writing a book now that will be out in exactly one year. It will be called Weed Rules: Blazing the Way to a Just and Joyous Marijuana Policy. I'm so excited about it!

Obtuse-Invasions11 karma

Hi Jay! What direction do you see legalization moving to in the future? Do you envision it being legalized on a federal level or do you think states will slowly legalize over time? Do you think federal legalization would happen via Congress or something like an executive order?
Also any dispensary recommendations in Boston or Cambridge?

jaywexler30 karma

Hello there! I think federal legalization through a congressional statute is inevitable. Executive order probably wouldn't work given the nature of the Controlled Substances Act. Bernie Sanders claimed he was going to legalize without Congress if he became President but I don't think most experts thought he could do it. As to how long before federal legalization, that's the million dollar question and I have no idea but I'll predict 3 years from now (based on nothing).

noahstudios138 karma

What are your thoughts on the classification of marijuana as a super addictive drug? Many believe the opposite, some say they get cravings for it, some say they don’t.

jaywexler16 karma

Right, the official position of the federal government is that marijuana has a "high potential for abuse" and part of that rationale has to do with the view that it's addictive. It's true that some people become dependent on weed to some degree or another and that in some cases that dependence can become debilitating, but it's not generally super addictive. Personally, when I stop using it I find it hard to sleep for a while, but I don't crave it exactly--it's kind of weird, I know I'm going to have a great time but somehow I don't feel like I need to have it. Others will have different experiences, of course, as you say.

leonardosegurat8 karma

Hey from México! How do you think US federal legalization, and the way things are advancing (if you could call it that) will affect us neighbors in the short, median, and long term?

jaywexler14 karma

Hi--thanks so much for tuning in and for the question. I don't think I know enough about Mexico to really know how to answer that question, which is a good one. I do think it's interesting that the Mexico Supreme Court has long held that prohibiting marijuana is unconstitutional under the Mexican Constitution. The Canadian courts held similarly with regard to medical marijuana. The US Supreme Court (shockingly, I know!) is behind.

theflyingvs7 karma

Any guesses when federal legalization will occur?

jaywexler47 karma

April 20, 2025. This guess, however, is based on absolutely nothing.

Devjorcra7 karma

Do you think there would be any implications of legalizing cannabis federally, positively or negatively, that gets lost in public discourse?

jaywexler18 karma

One important implication that has recently received attention (in large part because of an article by Rob Mikos ( has to do with how federal legalization will impact state laws that are intended to help or protect in-state businesses and individuals. These laws will become unconstitutional with federal legalization under what's known as the "dormant commerce clause" which prevents states from discriminating against other states in interstate commerce. The biggest problem here is that state efforts to give preferences to residents who live in "disproportionately harmed areas" for licenses and such, which are aimed at promoting equity in the industry, may very well become unconstitutional, thus undermining equity efforts. The remedy for this would be for Congress to specifically authorize states to violate the dormant commerce clause for some period of years to allow a smooth transition to full legalization. Another problem has to do with, for example, growers in states where it's harder and more expensive to grow the Devil's Lettuce than in other places. I don't know if Minnesota weed growers will be able to compete with Humboldt County cultivators once weed can be shipped over state lines. Great question!

GlassMeringue34715 karma

Hi Professor Wexler!

Can you explain the financial benefits for dispensary owners? Also, how can we ensure that people of color and women have equal opportunity in the dispensary owner sphere? Thank you!

jaywexler8 karma

Hello!! I'm not sure how much $$ dispensary owners are actually making--it's clearly going to vary a lot by business--but the fact that so many are opening and so many sales are being made (billions and billions and billions of dollars) suggests that the benefits can be substantial. The question about equity is crucial. Early on states didn't focus so much on equity but beginning maybe with Massachusetts most states that have legalized have made serious efforts to ensure equity in the dispensary owner sphere. One way they've done this is to give priority to equity applicants in the licensing process. This is helpful but maybe not enough. Even better is the Illinois approach of giving loans and grants to minority-owned businesses (as well as various kinds of training and other support) to help them be able to start businesses. Getting into the industry takes a lot of money, and with financing made so much more difficult by federal illegality (most banks don't want to deal with weed businesses), it can be extremely hard for people who aren't already rich to get in the biz. That's a major equity concern and we need to do more.

InDrIdCoLd375 karma

If it becomes federally legal will this likely allow legal growing as well? As I know some states have legal recreational use but not growing.

jaywexler18 karma

Right--a couple of states do not allow homegrows. Washington state is one, Illinois I believe is another. Nevada only allows you to grow your own plants if you're farther than a certain distance (25 miles maybe?) from a dispensary, which has always made me wonder what happens if you have three plants growing and then someone opens a new dispensary 20 miles from you--do you have to destroy the plants??? When federal legality arrives, my guess is that the federal law will be silent on growing at home and instead leave that decision up to the individual states.

ccrrccrr5 karma

If you could smoke with anyone, who would it be?

jaywexler11 karma

David Foster Wallace (yes I'm one of those guys)

LouQuacious5 karma

I’m a long time legacy grower and the inability to get a loan or do any normal banking is pretty frustrating. Any hope on the horizon? The Schumer bill is awful so I’m actually against it.

jaywexler10 karma

I don't know. The House has passed the SAFE Banking Act 5 times but the Senate doesn't seem to have much interest in passing it. I do think normal banking will come but I agree the wait is ridiculous.

ChattanoogaGuy4 karma

Why is it so difficult to use proper terminology regarding cannabis? Weed is a misnomer, and marijuana is an outdated term steeped in racism.

It really goes to show how so very little many lawmakers know about what cannabis even is and does for people.

jaywexler36 karma

Hi. It's a fair point, terminology is tricky in this space. You're totally right that the term "marijuana" has racist origins going back to Harry Anslinger and other awful people in the early part of the century, and some people will not use the term. I respect that decision. "Cannabis" refers to the entire plant and not just the psychoactive parts of it, so it's not always the accurate term to use. "Weed" may be a misnomer but I think people know what you mean when you say it. It's my preferred term.


I have three questions. 1) Do you think the federal government will allow diversion of water for cannabis and hemp from federally funded projects. Currently in states like Colorado, federally funded water projects cannot allow water diversions for anything illegal at the federal level. The Colorado Big Thompson water is not suppose to be used for cannabis, although some people were trying to use industrial classified CBT for hemp. The last I heard is that no CBT water can be used from hemp or cannabis.

2) in Colorado, there is an over production of hemp, and some would also say cannabis, but a lack of processing facilities. From my understanding, the legal implications about interstate transportation of hemp is questionable enough to discourage producers from transporting product across state lines for processing. Although they are willing to transport finished products like CBD oil across state lines. Do you know of any efforts of current legislation that would improve interstate commerce of hemp?
3) how long do you think it will take after federal legalizing cannabis for insurance companies and other entities to allow people with commercial drivers licenses to use cannabis while not on the clock?

jaywexler7 karma

I sadly know very little about hemp (or CBD, for that matter). Your first question is great because it illustrates yet another way that federal illegality affects the industry in an unexpected fashion. I'd be surprised if the feds allow such diversion, but I'm hardly an expert in that area. As for commercial drivers, that might take a while--certain categories of workers have typically been left out of efforts to make it harder to fire employees who test positive, and transporters are one of those categories. Public safety personnel too. It might happen, but probably not quickly.

almostbullets3 karma

I’m confused about Virginia law and others like it where you can grow and possess weed, but it’s still illegal to sell unless it’s medical (please correct me if I’m wrong). How do they expect the recreational user to get weed? I assume they only wan you to grow it but then how do you get seeds in the first place?

jaywexler9 karma

I'm not actually sure about the seeds question (I've never grown weed), but the conundrum posed by Virginia law is indeed silly. DC has been like that for a long time--can possess and use but there's nowhere to buy it. It's only slightly less absurd than making it illegal in the first place. I know there are places that try to get around these restrictions by selling $50 t-shirts or juice boxes that happen to come with a bag of weed, but shockingly I don't think government officials like that too much.

scatterbastard3 karma

Thank you so much for hosting this!

As an entrepreneur in an illegal state, what can and should I be doing to best position myself for an opportunity to have a dispensary once legalization happens in my state?

jaywexler5 karma

You're welcome!! I can only speak to legal-ish issues and not the business ones (I think my lawn mowing "business" when I was 12 was the only business i ever had, and somehow it lost money) but I would keep my eye on proposed legislation and regulations so that you understand what kinds of licenses the state will offer and how they'll process/approve applications and are ready to move early. If there are parts of the regulations that you think are problematic, usually there will be an opportunity to comment on them and make suggestions (which the agency may or may not take), maybe find a lawyer who either already has a weed practice up and running or plans to, and then when the regs come out you'll be prepared to do whatever you have to do to apply.

TripleArmadillo3 karma

Hi there Jay! If cannabis becomes legal at the federal level, what kind of restrictions could we expect to see more conservative states place on it's sale/usage? What types of restrictions would be limited by the nature of cannabis being legal at the federal level?

jaywexler9 karma

Even if the feds legalize, they are quite likely to let states that don't like weed (hello, Idaho?) keep it as illegal as they want. I don't think there's any appetite in Congress to stop states from keeping cannabis illegal if they want to. So the conservative states might just keep their laws the way they are.

swiftgruve2 karma

Do you think it makes sense for edibles to be candy? I know so many people (myself included) who had bad experiences because they ate too much without thinking about it because it just tastes like any other yummy treat. Why not just put it in pill form? It’s not like you need to eat that many anyway.

jaywexler12 karma

I definitely understand the point. Dr. Peter Grinspoon, one of the leading voices for legalization and rationality in the marijuana space, has taken this position, and I respect it. But people like eating real food that gets them high. Personally, I'd prefer to eat a dark chocolate orange bar or watermelon gummy turtle than swallow a pill. And if there's a demand that the legal market doesn't meet, it's likely that the illicit market will rise to meet it. So that's always a concern. Plus is it really that hard to not eat too many pieces of one specific type of candy?

Babyporkchops2 karma


jaywexler27 karma

Well, if you light up at the bar you might get in trouble. I usually pop my edibles before I go in. Listening to live music stoned is such a great pleasure. The Senate should do it collectively one night. They'd legalize the next day.

boi881 karma

Two questions I hope that is okay...

  1. What do you think the odds are of legalizing MJ federally in the next 10 years?

  2. Any thoughts on why some states allow people to legally grow their own recreational MJ while others don't or only allow growing medical or have other onerous rules around growing your own? I'm a person that would like to have a few MJ plants out in my garden next to my organic tomatoes and my other home grown food.

jaywexler6 karma

I think weed will be federally legal within five years. This prediction will almost certainly come back to haunt me.

The best reason that states have for banning home-grows, I suspect, is that it makes it harder for the police to find and root out big illegal grows. The worst reason is probably to boost industry profits (if someone grows their own they won't go buy any at a dispensary). There's a great Southpark episode about that, which includes Towelie insulting Stan's dad for being a sell-out.

AstroNards1 karma

In your opinion, if you’ve got one on this, which state seems least likely to legalize, or which seems to have the most uphill legalization effort?

jaywexler2 karma

I vote for Idaho. I don't know why exactly, but they seem to not like weed there.

ccrrccrr1 karma

What led you to be interested in marijuana as a career choice?

jaywexler12 karma

Well, I didn't get into marijuana law until about six years ago when I was looking for a new course to teach and a representative of a legal textbook company came by and told me they had a new "casebook" (the legal version of a textbook) on weed law, written by a great prof at Vanderbilt named Rob Mikos. She asked me, "do you know anyone who might want to teach a course in marijuana law at BU?" and I think she kind of thought I'd be interested. And I was. Luckily the powers that be at the law school said I could teach the course and I've been teaching and thinking about it ever since. It's a fascinating area not just because weed itself is great but also because as a legal matter weed law touches on nearly every other area of law, from criminal and constitutional law to employment law and environmental law, banking, tax, etc. etc. I hope to keep teaching it!

BlackUnicornGaming1 karma

Hi Jay, With the legalization of Marijuana on a federal level, do you think local dealers will still be as prevalent as they currently are?

Additionally, do you think that police will crack down less on low level Marijuana dealers or more?

jaywexler4 karma

Hi there. Well, one of the main goals of federal legalization will be to undermine the illicit market. I don't think legalization will ever put local dealers (assuming you mean local illicit dealers) completely out of business, but it should reduce their numbers. Economists also say that after some period of legalization, the price of legal weed will become so low that dealers in the illicit market may not be able to compete. The government might affect that by taxing weed too high, but presumably eventually they'll get the tax amount right and the illicit market will be far less prevalent than it is now. I don't know the answer to your question about the police, but there's at least an argument that under legalization it becomes more important to crack down on illicit dealers in order to prop up the legal market so that businesses which follow the regulations can actually make $.